In the last 30 minutes, I’ve sat down for lunch but I’ve only picked at my food because I’m extremely preoccupied with my hair. It isn’t limited only to the hair on my head, but I’ll get back to that dead-end mess later! I’ve spent half of my lunch break in front of the mirror trying to manage the tiny patch of hair that’s begun to grow on my neck and chin. Focusing on my neck is something I’d rather not do because it’s not a pretty sight. My neck is covered in red lines but it’s silky smooth because I’ve shaved the area so much; If I were to try and attach a metaphor to my life lately, I guess you’d say my neck is a skin ad in training.
Let me tell you about my new hobby. Unlike most hobbies, I don’t enjoy partaking in this hobby nor do I realize I’m doing half the time. Lately, I’ve been scratching this minuscule patch of hair on my chin. Growing hair on your chin as a woman is normal during your twenties; I’ve asked my Mom more times than I can count and she knows this to be true, SO I WILL BELIEVE IT!
Instead of accepting this *perk* of navigating my twenties, I’ve taken my body’s natural progression into extremities; while typing this sentence, I’ve had to resist touching my chin hair with my long nails three times! I sat with my Grandmother the other day, and she said she’d noticed I had been touching my face and neck nonstop. Until recently, my biggest beauty “blunder” has been maintaining adult acne but judging by my chin right now, you wouldn’t think I’d made any effort, but I can’t stop stroking these tiny, tiny hairs.
My chin’s non-feminine “gift” and the tiny whiskers that have taken up real estate have made me hate myself again. Hair fills me with hate; this sounds like a Smiths song title!
Like many of my traumatic childhood stories, my relationship with hair versus femininity began at church camp. One of my favorite lines from my all time favorite film “True Stories” happens in the opening scene courtesy of “The Lying Woman” where she says “I like hairy men. Jesus was hairy.” In retrospect, this line should’ve brought me peace with this traumatic childhood memory, but it did not.
I was seven years old, and sitting at a round table doing arts and crafts. A group of younger boys came over and one screeched, “LOOK! She has hair on her arms!”
This moment, dear reader, is the moment where I became obsessed with the relationship between hair and feminity, and how hair became my golden ticket to seeming APPEALING to men!
Don’t get me wrong, I have very nearly completely embraced having a ton of body hair. My favorite aspect of my appearance would be my full eyebrows which are frequently compared to Brooke Shields’ teen ‘brows. The one time a stylist plucked them without my consent, I nearly kicked her like a kid at the dentist. I was 21. Hey, I needed a shallow reason for men to look at me while I closed my tab at the bar!
My friend recently posted a thread on Facebook focusing on dumb things men have said to women. I shared a story on the thread and was struck by the number of stories by women of all ages. Many of the stories focused on thoughtless nuggets from dudes about how these women didn’t seem like… women. Encountering this thought process SO MANY TIMES caused me to double down on making sure this would no longer happen to me, and I’d try my best to be feminine as hell.
If you know me in real life, my wardrobe hasn’t changed since I was a 10 year old. I love band t-shirts and leather jackets, and I used to be very offended by boys in middle school who would ask me if I was gothic, because being considered goth was once considered to be the grossest level of not being feminine. I became obsessed with brushing my hair excessively Marcia Brady style and refusing to get a haircut because short hair was “out” at the time and considered not to be feminine.
I grew up having bangs and they became a signature part of my style and personality (because admittedly, I hid behind them a lot), but I finally got rid of them when I was 20, and my ex-boyfriend had told me one of the reasons why he was attracted to me was because I looked like Mara Wilson from “Matilda.” I loved that movie and liked Mara, but Jesus, dude. Mara is my doppelganger. I get it!
My “wild” hair departure coincided with realizing I had misguided ideas about having long hair and how it was the only way to appear feminine.
I finally realized how ridiculous this way of thinking is when I started taking sociology classes and started to study pop culture in an academic setting; despite knowing how consumerism targets young women at a young age endlessly marketing products and beauty ideals, why can’t I separate this logic deep down, despite knowing I am a valuable human being and I feel attractive on most days, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, comprehending that physical attraction isn’t a DEFINING QUALITY of who I am as a person!
I wish I had a happier ending to this post, but I truly don’t know how to “undo” these tightly ingrained messages from society, even on my best days. I’ve started to do little things to help, like taking a selfie when I feel like I’m looking “pretty.” I feel genuinely good when I do this, but still have a nagging feeling of needing to stop doing this, because it can appear narcissistic, but I’m doing things like this to keep from hating myself and putting all of my self-worth weight on my physical appearance.
I’m proud of having the self-awareness to understand how problematic my line of thinking is, and how much I need to work on changing this thought process. It’s only hair. It’s natural! It grows! But I still scratched my chin countless times through writing this post, because the hairs will go away, and I’ll look beautiful in your eyes without this chin hair.